GOP leaders eye the future. GOP voters keep looking back

Peter Grier in The Christian Science Monitor:

The two dozen Kalamazoo County Republicans are rapt. They sit shoulder to shoulder in foldout chairs as the guest speaker at their party meeting, who bills himself as an IT expert from the West Coast, details allegations of fraud he claims occurred in Michigan during the 2020 presidential election. No such fraud occurred, according to a report from a GOP-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee released in June. The panel’s eight-month inquiry produced no evidence to back up former President Donald Trump’s repeated claims that the state’s vote failed to match the will of the voters. But this audience believes. For close to two hours they listen and ask questions about the purportedly manipulated data on sheets glued to trifold folders positioned around the room. They take notes and snap pictures of the numbers with their cellphones.

“How do we –,” a man wearing a shirt with a bald eagle laid over an American flag pauses his question, and brings his hands together in front of his lips, as if in prayer. “How do we deal with all of this when our politicians are talking about wanting to move forward?” A combination of laughter and groans rises from the crowd. “What we need to do is move backwards!” says another man in the front row.

The scene illustrates in miniature the larger dynamic of forces increasingly enveloping the U.S. Republican Party. The GOP congressional leadership keeps saying it’s focused on the future – specifically working toward taking back the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections. But many of the party’s grassroots voters and activists, and the former president who remains its dominant personality, are looking in another direction, dwelling to an extraordinary degree on the past.

For these Republicans the most important issue facing the party is what to do about their belief that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen.” They can seem much less focused on the usual tasks of preelection politics, such as recruiting candidates, raising money, and plotting how to turn out votes.

More here.